Monday, April 20, 2009

Don't Sext Me

By Jamie Hill

There's another take on sex and technology that's not so literary, and not nearly as amusing. Last year the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy did a survey (in conjunction with asking nearly 1300 young people about their electronic activities. According to the survey, 1 in 5 girls (11% between the ages of 13 and 16) and 18% of boys have sent or posted nude or semi-nude pictures or videos of themselves. Further, 15% of senders forwarded the photos on to people they didn't know, or had met online. 39% of these kids admit to writing sexy emails and text messages. (Facts taken from an article by Judith Newman,

The kids have dubbed these kind of messages 'sexting', and in many cases apparently see nothing wrong with it. Some of these kids are as young as 10 or 11. Unfortunately, children don't have the mental capacity to think long range. On the internet, pictures never really go away. These photos and videos could resurface weeks, months or years from now, and may even be linked to the model's name. Potential employers don't like the pics you posted on MySpace? Wait 'til they get a load of these. My, you were adventurous when you were 11.

Two cases in the news recently have shown that these activities might have other, long-tem effects. Some of the kids charged with these crimes might actually have to register as a sex offender! Probably not what the creators of the sex offender laws had in mind, but hey. You breaks the law, you pays the price.

Here are the news items, complete with links in case you think I made this stuff up:

(Newser) Pennsylvania teens are in trouble over child-porn photos—of themselves. Three girls who took the pictures, and three boys who got them via cell phone, have been charged, Pittsburgh’s WPXI-TV reports. A student was caught with one of the phones in school in October, prompting a police investigation. But the charges violate the spirit of state child-pornography laws, says an attorney.

Police were hoping to make a point about the danger of such photo-sharing, MSNBC adds. “That cell phone can be put on the Internet where everyone in the world can get access,” said an officer. While the kids may not serve prison terms if convicted, they might have to register as sex offenders for a decade, the lawyer notes.

(Newser) A 14-year-old New Jersey girl has been charged with possessing and distributing child porn for posting nude photos of herself on her MySpace web pages, reports WPIX-TV. If convicted, the girl may have to register as a sex offender. The case highlights increasing problems with children posting or texting racy images of themselves. "This is a wake-up call for parents," said an official. "The girl posted the photos because she wanted her boyfriend to see them."

When I read about stuff like this, I'm really glad my kids are grown. They had the internet to cause trouble with while growing up, but no cell phones until they were driving on their own, so they could reach us in case of emergency. 'Sexting' hadn't been created then. Or I should say, it hadn't been labeled then. It probably began as soon as texting became the norm.

Personally, when I wanted to get in trouble as a kid, I went to the library and looked for dirty books. They were there, you just had to dig for them. (As an aside to this story, and sort of an update, on Feb. 23 I posted here at the Grip about a local library that had removed four 'questionable' books from the shelves: The Joy of Sex, The Joy of Gay Sex, The Lesbian Kama Sutra and Sex for Busy People. After they made this ruling, the library board never quite figured out what to do, so they tossed the idea around for a couple more months. Last week, they rescinded the vote and are allowing the books to stay on the shelves. They're going to put up a sign at the entrance stating the library contains some books with adult material, just so people know.) Damn! My secret is out. I might have some company trolling up and down the aisles, looking for dirty books.


  1. I have been pondering how to respond without sounding like an uncaring parent. My oldest is 13yrs old and my youngest is 8months 3 girls 2 boys (the 2 in the middle are 8yrs and 7yrs) It has never bothered me that the library might have books about sex in them.. hell if my child wants to go wandering the halls looking for such books let her. she'll get her questions answered that she might not want to ask me. I just had to explain what Bi Sexual was to her at Dinner the other night. I have a Collection of Gay Erotic Fiction on my laptop that i expect to have pilfered soon enough.. will i had the porn and such over to her NO.. will i make it hard for to get her hands on kinda... If she doesn't get it from me she will get it from her friends and the internet.. Am i stupid enough to think i can protect her from the big bad world of porn... No one protected me i was stealing my grandfathers books movies and magazines at 8yrs old. I do think kids are growing up to fast and have parents that dont pay them enough attention.. The difference i see between how i raise my child and how some of these other girls are acting is simply this i know what my daughter reads, listens too and who she talks to and when.. i put myself into my child's life.. If i catch her sending sexy pictures of herself at 13 14 15 or 16 we will have words.. Passwords in this house for all kids accounts are the same PW for all 3 kids.. I can log into anything my 13yr does. She doesn't get the chance to be sneaky. i am not better then anyone else i just try to be as involved in my kids life as i can.. I also let a lot of things go. I mind if she is sneaking in the Joy of Sex from the Library i just hope she asks the right people questions. Hell the first time i read about anal sex i couldn't imagine how it could be done without pain ( i was 13 at the time) Anyways i think i list my point.. my point is this i guess its stupid to get pissed that the library offers the Joy of Lesbian sex.. Out of the list of books posted 2 that stood out were the ones about GLBT community. Liberal closed minded goof balls are scared that these books are propaganda to convert the massed to "gayness" Didn't you know that being gay or Lesbians is contagious and they are Recruiting far and wide.. Ok ok ok damn soap box.. i am done i am sorry i went on and on.. It just sickens me the closed mindedness in the world sometimes.

  2. We recently had an expert on gangs here who gave a talk to the community. One of the strongest suggestions he made was to keep an eye on your child's MySpace. Although he was referring to gang involvement, it could be anything, from drugs to sex or anything in between.
    Like you, I am so glad my children are grown. I wouldn't want to have to worry about all the things out there today they could get involved in. It's awfully scary and a parent's nightmare.
    Books ... I have a real problem with banning any books just because a group of nose-in-the-air folks are offended by them.
    I can remember a class I had in high school and all we had to do was read books. One every couple weeks was all the teacher required. She was a speed reader and after you read your book, you handed it to her, she zipped through it and quizzed you on what you read. It was a one-on-one interview. I loved the class and read voraciously. However, some of the books weren't always agreeable with her. I suppose she found some offensive, but I felt that was too bad. I read -- and always have -- anything that strikes my fancy at the time. I read a variety of genres and never stick to only a handful of authors.
    The books I read wouldn't have been appropriate for younger children, no, but for a high school student, they were fine. Regardless of how we try to shelter our children, there is a real world out there. And that world includes sex, drugs, profanity, etc.
    A mature teen can read about it, yes, but posting a photo on MySpace? I'm sorry, but that real world also includes some hardcore predators who have no qualms about enticing young people into dangerous situations.

  3. in freshman HS English my teacher didn't know what to do with me because i was a city girl in a small town.. she told me as long as i handed in my reports to her i could read anything i wanted and she would keep me line when i got pissy about how in Man Without a Face was Gay and it wasn't A Taboo thing.. That was the year I was introduced to Ann Rice.. I read Queen of the Damned and Sleeping Beauty that Year.. I was reading Trashy Novels in 5th grade.. BUT i was 2yrs older then most kids in my class.

  4. Hey Silverpixies and LuAnn,

    I read Helter Skelter when I was much too young and it scared the crap outta me. I was reading bodice rippers in middle school, and lusting after those handsome hunks.

    I think our local library board didn't really want to ban those four books but got pushed into it, and that's why they kept bringing the issue up until they could rescind it. I just think it's so amusing that they're putting signs on the library doors alerting people to adult material. I seriously think that'll bring more attention to it.

    Not sure what I would have done with a MySpace as a young girl. It probably would have had lots of pink and cute stuff, but definitely no nakey pics of me. Holy cow! I'm not that crazy. Shush Jude.



  5. If the library has to post a disclaimer then people must not be reading. What to they do in the library, sexting?

    AT&T parents can set your phone up so pictures can't be sent. If you have unlimited texting with multimedia you can send pictures, but you can also use the Internet and that isn't cheap unless you have unlimited Internet. I just restored my grandson's (age 24) access to photos, but didn't tell him about the net. photos are free.

    Ludites say their kids know more than they do about electronics. Kids shouldn't have anything their parents don't understand.


  6. Hey Ray,

    I agree with you as usual. You should have seen my son when his father put in a friend request to him on Facebook. He wrote in his status "Oh, Lord." Not many people probably understood that, but I sure did. LOL

    Thanks for stopping by,


  7. Hi Jamie, everyone,

    Jamie, you're that crazy, sorry. LOL

    This is an outstanding post, Jamie, thank you for taking us this way. My kids are older too, my youngest is 30, so I never had to deal with 'sexting' thank heaven. I'm sure my daughter would have been in trouble if I had. And that's not saying she was a bad girl, she wasn't. She was adventurous though and older than her years in many ways.

    About the youngsters being charged with possession of child porn, I have trouble with that. They're too young to be held responsible, in my opinion. I do think they need guidance, and that's what parents are supposed to do. Yes, I know it won't happen. And that's sad all the way around.

    You know, thinking back, when birth control pills first came out and the price got so everyone could use it, teenagers went crazy. The dosage was enough to down a horse, but it was effective and that's what women of all ages wanted. Men too, but they were secondary, in my opinion. Women were finally free to have sex. The pendulum swung way too far in one direction, and possibly that's what's happening now. I truly hope these kids who have been gullible aren't scarred for life, but you know, things change. Decades ago, women wouldn't have dared show an ankle. Now, very little is hidden. Some of this is good, some not so much.

    About books, well, I read naughty books my older brother hid under his bed. I can't remember how old I was, but I hadn't hit 12 cause we moved that year. Did I understand it all? No, but I liked it. LOL You can't hide sexuality from children. They have their own sexuality and it'd be like having to put caste iron pants on them so they couldn't feel. If they're gay, I think they should be given the opportunity to explore what that means, without feeling like they're sick or deranged. Those people who think gayness can be cured, well in my opinion, they have their own set of problems and should be taught. Again, it ain't going to happen, but I can dream.

    Silverpixies and LuAnne, both of your posts were awesome. Parents really do have to be with their children and take control of what they're doing online, with their friends and when they're outside of the home. In the progressive world of this millennium, there's really too much at stake to let them do their thing. That's sad too, but it's the way things are.

    Amazing post Jamie. Thank you.


  8. Glad the library lets adults read adult books now, lol.

    As for sexting. I think any techonology that can be sexualised will be as soon as possible. It's just the way peoples minds seem to work.

    I do worry about what will happen to those images onces they are let loose on cyber space though, and how long they will remain there. Silly mistakes, serious consequences...

    Great post, as always, Jamie.

    Kim Dare.

  9. Kim,
    I have a friend who let a man photograph her nude on all fours, made up a fake AOL screen name similar to her real one and made her out to be a hooker. She was in her forties at the time. She sent me a copy of the picture. I could have misused it the same way her boyfriend did just because he was mad at her. I would not be surprised if after nine years it is still out there somewhere.


  10. Thanks for making feel a little better. a lot of people give me hell and tell me because my children are allowed to do a lot more then normal kids i am a bad parent. Maybe i am wrong in thinking that i have been here before i know what my mother did wrong and try to make it right. My mother gave me no rules, she didn't teach me porn was bad, that gays and lesbians were evil.. i learned on my own to accept people for they are on the inside not on the outside cause that's how i wanted to be judged. my kids have some rules, they don't wrong willy nilly around like i did. i know for a fact my 13yr isn't in the garage learning how to deep throat on a neighborhood boy.. at 14 she isn't going to know what a blow job is how to deep throat and the joy of swallowing. i know i know TMI but that's kinda my point.. all we as parents can do is Not repeat all the crappy choices our parents made lol.

  11. It's hard to imagine "sexting" when I was a teenager. I was horny as the next teen, but I'd never take sexual things so casually. Sex was mysterious and fascinating. I would never have wanted to be so public.

    I do think that it's ridiculous to try and treat this as "child pornography". And to be honest, I don't think that anything is going to discourage this behavior except a heart-to-heart with parents, who can point out not only how potentially dangerous this is, but also how profoundly silly.

    At least, it seems silly to me. Which probably means I don't understand the kids' motivations at all.



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